The modern industrialized world is a complex system on a scale never before witnessed in the history of humankind. Technologically dependent, globally interconnected, it offers seemingly limitless conveniences, choices, and opportunities. Yet this same modern civilization is as unstable as a house of cards, fear complexity scientists like John L. Casti. All it would take to downsize our way of life-to send us crashing back to the 19th century way of life-is a nudge from what Casti calls an X-Event, an unpredictable occurrence that with extreme, even dire, consequences. When an X-Event strikes - and scientists believe it will-finance, communication, defense, and travel will stop dead in their tracks. The flow of food, electricity, medicine, and clean water will be disrupted for months, if not years. What will you do? A renowned systems theorist, Casti shows how our world has become impossibly complicated, relying on ever more advanced technology that is developing at an exponential rate. Yet it is a fact of mathematical life that higher and higher levels of complexity lead to a system that's ever more fragile and susceptible to sudden, spectacular collapse. Fascinating and chilling, "X-Events" provides a provocative tour of the catastrophic outlier scenarios that could quickly send us crashing back to the pre-industrial age: global financial black swans; a world-wide crash of the Internet that would halt all communication; the end of oil; nuclear winter; nano-plagues; robot uprisings; electromagnetic-pulse bombs; pandemic viruses; and more. You won't look at the world the same way again after reading this book.